A total YA package – the clever and crisp ‘Spark’

SparkI’d heard a heap of good about this book, earning it a place in Swifty the caravan on my latest holiday.

I was not disappointed. This is classic YA.

It’s fab to see a debut book that is so polished. ‘Spark’ by Rachael Craw ticks all the YA boxes. Happily it does so without the sort of contrived staging that would drive me to make a list of all the ticks it ticks as I tick each off. If you get my drift.

…?

Anyhoo… Let’s look at what I think worked for this one.

What rocked?

  • Straight-into-it structure
  • Super-solid world-building
  • Intrigue with some good ol’ fashioned whodunnit
  • Off-limits romance.

Structure that throws you in the deep end

There’s no hanging about in this book. I love that the first chapter is called Symptoms. You know it’s going down, and going down soon.

Even though the book begins in an oft-mocked fashion (with the protagonist waking up) the beginning works really well. We’re thrown into action. Our definition of normal goes out the window with what Evie sees.

And Love Interest Jamie is mentioned before the end of Chapter One. Just so we’re sure he’s going to be turning up in the near future, and we know there’s history there.

 

World-building so solid you can carve it and eat it for dinner

Having read the blurb I was actually expecting a futuristic setting. I love that this book is in a contemporary setting, just with a secret society hidden within. It’s something that works well and works often. Think Mortal Instruments and Harry Potter.

You can really connect with a story where you can imagine it happening to you. You’re walking down the street one day in your normal, run-of-the-mill life, and *Whammo*!

You see a demon.

Or have an owl send you a letter.

Or start zip-zapping…

Craw has built a great world in this book, complete with levels of authority, rules and history. Barely anything made me go “hmmm”. I LOVE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS!

 

Whodunnit?

No really? Who did?

Seriously, anyone could have been the bad guy here. But it doesn’t feel contrived that we meet the main players early on. It feels right.

Like a good old classic British TV police series. Meet all the suspects, suspect them all in turn, figure it out in the end. Cheer.

I wasn’t sure who the baddie was until the end. Not that it was convoluted or headachey. It was slick and fab holiday reading that had me glued to the pages well past the moment I should have turned the caravan light off.

 

Unsanctioned romance – that dash of naughty law-breaking (without actually breaking any laws, because – ew -)

There aren’t many popular YA novels that don’t involve romance and tension thereof. In fact, I’m thinking and coming up with zip. But then I’ve spent most of the afternoon playing Sylvanian Families with two five-year-olds so my brain is somewhat fried.

Generally I see two types of romantic tension:

  1. Impossible: They’re your sibling or your bestie’s boy/girlfriend, or the world will emplode if you kiss them, etc.
  2. Triangular: Two Love Interests, which will you choose? Oh, the agony.

‘Spark’ runs with the Impossible model, but thankfully it’s not actually impossible. Because I find that to be plain annoying. You want the reader to be cheering for the poor beleaguered couple. Reading frantically, and hoping they get together in the end…

 

 

The verdict?

Totally read it. Everyone in it is gorgeous in a genetically-engineered fashion, but this is fiction after all!

It’s a top book. Hats off to Craw :o).

 

Anyone else read it? Or can you think of a great YA that doesn’t have romance? Let me know…

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